Led by Coach Mike Ditka, a tight end for the Bears during their last Super Bowl win, Chicago won 17 of 18 games to reach the championship match-up with the Patriots, who became only the fourth wild-card team in history to advance to the Super Bowl. After Tony Franklin kicked a 36-yard field goal only one minute and 19 seconds into the game, New England took the quickest lead in Super Bowl history. It was mostly downhill for the Patriots from there, as the Bears built a 23-3 lead by halftime, gaining a total of 236 yards, compared with New England’s minus 19. The young Patriots quarterback, Tony Eason, had zero completions in six passes, was sacked three times and fumbled once before being replaced by Steve Grogan near the end of the first half.
The mighty Bears defense made a crucial impact on the game, causing six Patriot turnovers (four of which led to touchdowns) and holding New England to a total of only seven rushing yards all game. The Bears were hot on offense as well, as quarterback Jim McMahon completed 12 of 20 passes for 256 yards and no interceptions. Defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry had one of the game’s most memorable moments, running in a one-yard touchdown and spiking the ball in celebration. The celebrated Chicago running back Walter Payton carried 22 times for 61 yards but did not score, the one disappointment in an otherwise triumphant game for the Bears.
When the game was over, the Bears had set a new NFL record for margin of victory (36 points), bettering the mark of 29 set by the Los Angeles Raiders when they beat the Washington Redskins 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII. They also scored more points than any other team in the history of the Super Bowl, beating the previous record (38) shared by the Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIX. The Bears defensive end Richard Dent, who contributed one and a half of Chicago’s record seven sacks, was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XX, becoming only the fourth defender to win the honor.